Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What's in a Name?

The absurd cases that appear with some frequency in America's courtrooms never cease to amaze me.

The law in New York is that anyone has the right to use any name of his or her choosing, unless there is some motive for fraud or other nefarious purpose. In order to change one's name, one can take either or both of the following legal paths:

A. File a petition in the court to obtain a court order allowing the change of name; and/or

B. Simply adopting the new desired name (with or without the court order).

The Appellate Division, Third Department, has overturned a trial court's denial of a petition for a name change. The case is Matter of Earl William Golden III, ___ A.D.3d ___, ___ N.Y.S.2d ___, 2008 NY Slip Op 9333, 2008 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 8983, N.Y.L.J., 12/9/2008, p. 30, col. 1 (3d Dept. 2008). The uncontested contentions in the petition are that the person who was born a baby boy and named Earl William Golden at birth now identifies with the female gender, and accordingly, seeks to change the birth name to Elisabeth Whitney Golden. The trial court noted the likelihood of confusion in the change of name from the male to female gender, but the Appellate Division panel found that this alone was not sufficient reason to deny the name change.

What is so absurd about this case? Apparently, "[i]ncluded in the submission was an affidavit from petitioner's spouse indicating that she supported the name change request and had no objection thereto."

So has Golden transitioned from a man to a lesbian? Is his "spouse" a real woman? A former woman? What's going on here?

The court can only go by the evidence before it. I cannot help but wonder, however, whether there might not actually be some sort of ulterior motive based in fraud or confusion. Either that, or this guy/gal is just plain wacko after all.

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  • At 11 December, 2008 13:24, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hmm, I don't typically engage "i....s" but in this case I will make an exception. 1) my wife's or my sexual orientation are none of your business or anyone elses.2)NYS law on name change makes no reference to gender, perceived or otherwise. This "wacko" has been married 28 years-3 children-4 grandchildren. A full time job, oh yeah lets not forget 4 years in the USAF including a tour of duty in Vietnam. The only absurdity here is that you don't understand civil rights. Elisabeth Golden

  • At 12 December, 2008 03:12, Blogger Expatriate Owl said…

    There is, of course, the very strong possibility that the above comment is the work of an impostor, but, for the purposes of this reply comment, I will assume that the comment above is in fact by the same Elisabeth Golden, formerly Earl William Golden III, who was subject of the judicial opinion referenced in the main posting. Moreover, said poster will be referred to by the name Elisabeth Golden, the name by which that person has chosen to be known.

    First, let us address your contention that I "don't understand civil rights." To the contrary, I understand civil rights quite well. Your right to go by the name of your choosing has not been questioned here. And, this being my blog, I have the right to express my opinions here. They are, by definition, my personal opinions. It is not necessary for my opinions to conform to Elisabeth's, nor anyone else's, moreover, it is not even necessary that Elisabeth feel comfortable with my opinions. And, this being my blog, I have the right to moderate comments, and dictate what is or is not posted here. I have chosen to post your comment (though I obviously take great issue with it), along with this reply.

    Second, nowhere do I imply that your employment or military record is anything but honorable, nor do I question your competence for employment in whatever fields you claim experience or expertise.

    Third, I really, really don't care one wit about what does or does not go on in your bedroom.

    Fourth, it is noted that you could have just discontinued the use of the name Earl, and replaced it with Elisabeth, without any involvement of the judicial system. You chose to bring your case into the courts of New York. And any judicial decision of any court in New York (or any other state) is a matter of public record, and accordingly, fair game for commentary by the public. It is, of course, my civil right to know what the judicial opinions are, and to comment upon them, foul or fair. You chose to insert your personal information into the court. Don't now come complaining that members of the public are commenting about it.

    Having been employed by the Internal Revenue Service, I have been trained to "think dirty," to speculate as to possible ulterior motives behind seemingly innocuous actions and schemes. I have the right to so speculate. Such speculations do not necessarily constitute accusations, and certainly do not constitute any evidence of any untoward behavior on your part. They are nothing more, and nothing less, than personal speculations.

    Without getting into the details, I can think of a number of potential ulterior motives, pecuniary and otherwise, for your name change.

    I shall not now get into any discourse as to whether or to what extent your situation as purported to the court is or is not normal or abnormal. But it is certainly atypical.

    And, in my biased and bigoted (but Constitutionally protected) opinion, it suggest that either (A) you and/or your spouse have some ulterior motive; and/or (B) you and/or your spouse are wacko!

  • At 31 December, 2008 23:46, Anonymous Evan Rockefeller said…

    Might I suggest that, although you profess to understand civil rights, you are completely ignorant of the issues facing transgendered individuals.

    If you are not suggesting that Elisabeth's employment or military records are in question or accusing her of fraud, then what, exactly, do you mean by "wacko"? I think that making a point of identifying yourself here as having been employed by the IRS sure makes it sound as if you are accusing her of fraud, and as the court has now ruled in her favor, I think she would have valid cause to bring action against you for libel.

    If you really don't care what goes on in her bedroom, then why do you ask whether her spouse is a lesbian and "what's going on here?"

    If you really think that it's so easy to change your name under common law, go ahead, try it and see how much more confusion that causes.

    Maybe you think transpeople are "wacko" sexual deviants, because you've never once questioned the gender system; you're too entrenched in your privilege; you can't understand someone's quest for something more important than money.

    Elisabeth did not choose to "insert [her] personal information into the court" for fun; she did it so that she can live her life with a name that matches her gender identity.

    It's really too bad that you have so much time to spend hiding behind your computer screen and passing judgment on other people. You may be secure in what you think is an understanding of civil rights, but I'd say you have a lot to learn about human decency and respect. Take some time. Do some research. And let us all know when you have something intelligent to say on the issue of trans rights. In the meantime, I'm sure you'll feel free to launch all sorts of critical, vindictive words at me. Go ahead. I've already heard it all.

    --Evan Rockefeller, transman living life out and proud

  • At 01 January, 2009 03:16, Blogger Expatriate Owl said…

    Imprimis, this is my Blog. It carries my own views. I control my comments, and whether or not outsider's comments are posted. I have chosen to post Evan Rockefeller's comment.

    My speculations and opinions regarding whether and to what extent Elisabeth has any ulterior motives are just that -- speculations and opinions. They do not rise to the level of actionable libel.

    All other points of response to Evan Rockefeller's comments have already been expressed in this posting (and in my comment above); I see no need to rehash them, other than to say that I stand by them.


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